Tuesday, December 23, 2014

High tea edition vol 2: Passionfruit Pastilles

So last time, I talked about the Rosemary and Bay truffles, and gave an overview of the high tea menu.

Today, it's on to the Passionfruit pastilles - probably the most popular dish (apart from fruit mince pies, because I make a mean fruit mince pie courtesy of Nigella).

Passionfruit Pastilles
Heston Blumenthal at Home

So this was fun, if a little nerve wracking as I wasn't sure if it was going to work!

I made a half batch because I didn't have a lot of moulds, and even then it made plenty. I also used the pulp that comes in jars in the fruit and veg section, because I couldn't get the actual fruit. (It worked fine). I found it really interesting that there isn't any gelatin in the pastilles - just pectin and sugars and flavour. Kind of super set jam.


  1. Puree passionfruit pulp
  2. Mix the sugar, pectin and glucose with the pureed pulp
  3. Heat to 108 degrees *harder than it sounds
  4. Add lemon juice
  5. Pour into moulds, cool.
  6. Roll in sugar
Which all left me realise it is much like making caramel. Let's see...

Assemble your ingredients

I got the pectin from the health food store rather than a speciality grocer. Thanks to an excellent tip from a co-worker.

Puree your passionfruit pulp

I was a little unsure about leaving the seeds in. Husband felt they'd be better seedless - just keeping the flavour, but most guests were happy with them in. ("It's like actual passionfruit, isn't it. Because that has seeds, so you expect them")  Of course, removing the seeds would be a pain and also greatly reduce your weight of passionfruit pulp. Maybe if you have them growing in your yard, but at $5 a small jar... I'm happy to keep the seeds in.


Mix the sugar, pectin and glucose with the pureed pulp

This was labelled as "citrus pectin". I don't know if there are many kids, but it worked fine.
Pop it in and mix it up.

 Heat to 108 degrees 

*harder than it sounds

So there isn't a lot of photos of this, because it is very difficult to juggle a spatula for stirring, and an electronic thermometer and a hot saucepan and it's really very hot. It also took much, much longer than I expected.

It got to 100 (Celsius) or so  without any trouble, but then stopped for ages, and then stop again at around 104... and so on. It took maybe 20-30 minutes? I'm not sure, it felt like forever, and it was very awkward standing so close of the boiling sugar of threatening doom...I got really worried it just wasn't going to get there at all, and nearly took them off early. The colour went from a light-ish yellow to a very dark yellow-brown.

Once it hit the magic number it took it off very quickly! Then lemon juice goes in then. No photos, boiling passionfruit scented caramel stuff, not enough hands for photos.

Pour into moulds

Despite doing a half mix, I still had extra, so used some left over mini muffin silicon cups.
 Let them cool.

 Then, very nervously... pop them out!

 Roll them in sugar...

 I was taken aback by how great they looked. Yay!

Things I learned:

  • There is a world of confectionery out there. I may need to investigate further.


Other then the significant nerves over the getting-to-the-right-temperature problem, these weren't very difficult barring the usual dealing with molten sugar issue.

Product wise... they are really intensely flavoured and a soft, but not too soft texture. They are not the hard kind of jube, more like those fancy pastilles you might give as gifts.  Personally, I found the flavour too strong. But I was the only person to feel that way.

I'm tempted to buy about another 3 of the silicon trays, they do make the finished product look much more like the real deal.

Guest opinions:

Very popular, though more so for some than others. As in, for those who loved them, I could use them as gold currency. I now am tempted to try the caramelised apple variety...

Next: Chocolate sauce for Madeleines. For reals this time. ;)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

High tea: Rosemary & bay truffles

So, for a while now I've wanted to do an afternoon tea - a high tea. (Which is what we call a fancy afternoon tea. Which isn't actually the correct British definition as I understand it, but anyway..)

I have a thing for high tea. All those pretty dishes, and delicious delicate things...  Fortunately, I am far from alone in this love. So, a dear friend of mine offered to host the venue, while I brought the food.

There were, of course a few Heston dishes to add to the list for me to talk about. I'll do one per post, keep it easy for people reading. (And yes, there was a lot of Nigella love going on. She does ace the baking thing.)

We had: (origin of dishes marked in brackets)
  • Scones (Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess)
    • plain with strawberry jam and cream
    • cheese and chive with butter
  • Sandwiches (None. They are sandwiches. I don't need no recipe for sandwiches.)
    • cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
    • honey baked ham and Swiss cheese sandwiches
  • Cupcakes (Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess)
    • Chocolate Cherry
    • Carrot with cream cheese frosting
  • Fruit mince pies (Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess)
  • Coconut Maccaroons (Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess)
  • Madeleines (Stephanie Alexander - Cook's Companion, 2ed.)  with chocolate sauce (Heston Blumenthal - Heston Blumenthal at Home.)
  • Florentines - (Heston Blumenthal - Heston Blumenthal at Home.) 
  • Rosemary and bay truffles (Heston Blumenthal - Heston Blumenthal at Home.) 
  • Passionfruit Pastilles (Heston Blumenthal - Heston Blumenthal at Home.)

Today we're talking...

Rosemary and bay truffles

Heston Blumenthal at Home

I've made a variant of these before. And they were nice, but I really wanted to try the rosemary and bay truffles. Such a savoury flavours as a sweet? It's classic Heston. I also made the crispy chocolate coating this time. Yum.


  1. Warm the milk and flavours.
  2. Melt the chocolate separately
  3. Mix together
  4. Chill
  5. Make the crystallised chocolate coating
  6.  Roll chocolate into balls and then in coating

I decided to do a half batch, as I recall it making quite a lot, and I was worried it would be awful, and didn't want to have a whole bunch of chocolates no one would eat.

Step 1: Warm the milk in flavours. 

For this one, its rosemary and thyme. Warm it up, and let it infuse for a while.

Then strain out the bay and rosemary.

Step 2: Melt the chocolate

As I've mentioned before, I do this in the microwave..

Step 3: Mix together

I used double cream, rather than whipping cream. This was a mistake, because it was too high on the fat content, meaning it separated (just a little).

Step 4: Chill. 

Pour it into your prepared tin.

Step 5: Make the Crispy Chocolate topping. 

I recognised this as a similar thing to some of the chocolate dirt from the Tiramisu flowerpots.Version one and two.

Heat up water and sugar ...

Until it hits 135 degrees, or starts to colour slightly on the edges. I went for the latter because it was a lot easier than juggling a thermometer. (Basically you're using a similar technique to making wet caramel).

Add some chopped chocolate...

And whisk like crazy..

It turns to powdery lumps. Totally freakish and not what you expect from chocolate. I recommend getting a spoon and squishing some of the larger lumps to make it more powdery and better suited to rolling into balls.

Step 6: Roll into balls and then into coating.

You can see below some the fat has separated out. Sigh. I scraped it off before rolling it into balls.
I found the large sized melon scoop was perfect truffle size.

I don't have any pictures of that. What can I say, it was really messy and my usual photographer was excitedly helping roll balls of ganache in chocolate crystals.

I also managed to not take a photo of them after making them. You can see them on the top tier, with the lighter coloured coating.

Things I learned from this recipe:

  • Use the right cream asked for in the recipe. If double cream was better, it would have asked for it.


They were tasty! Unexpectedly so. The rosemary was definitely noticeable, but not in anyway unpleasant. Just... different.

Guest opinions:

Well received. Apart from husband who feels rosemary has no place in chocolate. Otherwise generally enjoyed, especially by the other member of our household, who ate four.

Next: Chocolate sauce for Madeleines.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No Fat Duck Melbourne table for me. Cue the crushing disappointment.

So I, unfortunately like another 76,000 people did not get a table at the Fat Duck for it’s Melbourne sojourn.

I am terribly disappointed, as you might imagine.  Also, though I am down for the wait list, this becomes problematic for me as last minute flights across the country (I live in the West) can be hard to get and very pricey and so may make it very difficult for me to manage.

Unfortunately, none of the dozen other people I know who put down for a table got one either. We were collectively very unlucky – with a 1 in six chance, someone should have lucked out. It saddens me that I can’t even live vicariously via someone I love.

So, if you are reading, and got one? Please, please blog about it, and send me the link. Or email me. I need to hear that the people who went loved and appreciated it as much as I hoped to. I am so very envious. Sigh.

Next post, I promise to be in better humour and with more food blogging. 
I have plans for a high tea….

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wish me luck! The Fat Duck ballot opens.

So today the ballot opens for tables at the Fat Duck in Melbourne.

I think this has to make the Fat Duck the most difficult restaurant to eat at in the world now, surely.

I decided that since it's a lottery of sorts, I'd just go for the best - and optioned for the Chef's Table. After all, once I pay to fly across the country to go, what's another $150 each, right? Ouch.

Who knows, maybe I'll luck out and actually manage that life wish over in the sidebar. A girl can hope.

If you want to try your luck, you can read more about it and enter the ballot yourself here: The Fat Duck Melbourne.

Sadly, despite the grand hope of many of my dear friends - tables are not transferable, so you can't book for me and gift me your table. *cries* You'll have to just wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

It's going to be a very anxious wait over the next month to see if I get a booking. If you too are hoping to score a table, I wish you the very best of luck. If you make it, do send me a photo! Or you know, seventy. I'll want to live vicariously after all.

Next time: Back to cooking, I hope! I have a plan in mind for a "Surprise" themed meal...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prep Ahead Dinner Party : Coffee Creme Brulee

So.. I just realised I hadn't finished up that dinner party post! 

Prep Ahead Dinner Party - Dessert edition!

This is the final, somewhat belated post on dessert from my Prep Ahead Dinner Party. It's kind of the lazy Heston dinner, despite being an all Heston meal.

We had: (Heston dishes marked with a *)
  • Prawn cocktails*, with from scratch Mayonnaise* and Soy-marinated roe*
  • Braised pork belly with cracking*, pommes puree* (mk2), braised lettuce* and steamed carrots.
  • Coffee creme brulee*

Today we're talking...

Coffee Creme Brulee 

Heston Blumenthal at Home

I've not made brulee in more than a decade. I did however get given a blowtorch for Christmas, and have been looking for an excuse to sue it ever since.

Heston Blumenthal at Home has this as a golden syrup one, but I went for the coffee variant.

This dish actually only has five ingredients. FIVE. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking Heston had gone easy or something. Makes me feel positively lazy compared to Phil's recent efforts.

  1. Warm the milk and flavours
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar
  3. Mix them
  4. Cook them in ramekins into custard
  5. Blow torch sugar on top into toffee.
(Step 5 is everyone's favourite).

 Heat up the cream, milk and coffee..
until it is all melted. Bring to a simmer.

Whisk egg yolks with a little sugar...
until light and creamy.
Add a little of the hot coffee mix to the eggs. This "tempers" it, bringing it to the same temperature (and presumably stops it from all turning in to scrambled eggs when you mix in the rest of it.
Add the rest of the mix and mix well.Then, strain the mixture through muslin and a sieve.
 Thereby making a giant tea coffee bag.
Skim the surface with kitchen paper to remove bubbles.

 Which will seem a bit pointless, since now you pour it into ramekins.
Which you then blowtorch to remove bubbles. Bad bubbles. Very naughty. No, I don't know why you needed to use the paper before, given you go all nuclear on the bubbles here. *shrugs*
Then they go into a roasting tray, filling the sides (the outsides, not the inside bits with custard in them, obviously) with boiling water.
 Then foil over the top and into the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
Once they are baked, let them cool slightly then into the fridge overnight.

That's it, until right before serving.

Pour over a nice layer of unrefined caster sugar..
 And blowtorch that sucker into toffee!
Try not to giggle or act gleeful, or the guests will look at you with a mixture of bemusement and concern.
 Serve immediately!

Things I learned from this recipe:

  • Don't over-blast the sugar.


The flavour on this was great, not too sweet. I slightly overdid the blow-torching. I suspect due to poor technique. This meant that some had a little puddle of butter/oil in them. While it didn't taste bad, it didn't look great. I am fairly sure this was the top layer of custard being melted from the close contact with the molten sugar. I might need to read up on better technique for next time. Too much glee, not enough care I suspect.

Guest opinions:

Very well received. I thought they could be a little sweeter, but my guests felt they were well balanced. A very good, easy dish. An excellent option should you be doing other more complicated partners.

Next: I'm planning another dinner party and regretting that my house and budgets are both smaller than I'd like...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Braised pork belly with crackling: Bring on the meat!

This dish was a surprise. 

I had put doing it off, despite being greatly interested in the eating of it, after being scared off by the 18 hours cooking time. “Eighteen hours!” I thought, “How would you manage that!”

The big surprise came in two things… one… it was one of the easier Heston dishes. And, in terms of actual cook-doing-cooking time… it didn’t take much actual time, but near enough to 42 hours elapsed time. It’s kind of a ‘hurry up and wait’ dish.

And, because I am feeling terribly kind, I’m going include in this dish WHEN I did everything, so all the timing is laid out for you.You're welcome.

Is all this long-time ahead prep worth it? Well.. sorry to give away the best line, but.. one guest called it “the best pork I’ve ever eaten.”

Prep Ahead dinner party:

We had: (Heston dishes marked with a *)
  • Prawn cocktails*, with from scratch Mayonnaise* and Soy-marinated roe*
  • Braised pork belly with cracking*, pommes puree* (mk2), braised lettuce* and steamed carrots.
  • Coffee creme brulee*

Braised Pork Belly with Crackling

Heston Blumenthal at Home


1. Prepare the spiced brine
2. Brine the pork belly
3. Braise pork belly
4. Cook crackling
5. Cool pork belly, strain off veg
6. Prep sauce
7. Warm pork belly to serve

It might look like a lot, but most of those steps take less than 15 minutes of actual chef time. The down side though? The elapsed time of many of those steps is measured in hours….

Let’s see how it is done, shall we?  
The times I am working on assumes you want to serve this for Saturday night. I’ll indicate when I did them in italics like this.

Prepare the spiced brine

(Thursday evening)
So if you’ve made brine before you’d be aware, it is just very salty water. Soaking meat in brine makes it more tender when you cook it. (Just remember to wash the brine off before cooking, or its really salty). In order to add flavour to this dish, Heston also adds spices to this mix. A salty tea to soak in. Like its own day spa.

Before putting them in the water, you roast them. This is not difficult. Look.
Put spices in dish.

Roast them in oven.

Whizz them up a bit.
Add them into a tea bag muslin with the rosemary, thyme and zests.
Warm your water,  add a large chunk of salt and the muslin bag until it boils.  
Put the whole lot in a bowl and let it cool. Overnight.

Brine the pork belly

First you need to remove the skin from the pork belly, and put it aside for later. (Thursday night while the brine was warming up).
6.30am Friday morning. Put pork belly in a dish it will fit (A lasagne tray worked nicely) 
and fill the dish with the spiced brine, discarding the muslin bag. (Or rather discarding the contents, so you can rewash and reuse the muslin). This goes into the fridge (covered with cling film) for 12 hours – i.e. after you get home from work.

6.30-7.30pm Friday evening. 
Drain off the spiced brine, and refill the dish with fresh cold water. Replace the cold water every 15 minutes.

Braise the pork

While the pork is rinsing, get the rest of your braising ingredients together. 
Put on the oven to warm now. My oven doesn’t have a 70 degree temp, but some testing with a thermometer found that the “Keep Warm” setting is 70 degrees on my oven.

Slice up the carrot, onion and leek. Defrost your chicken stock. I used Heston’s brown chicken stock recipe, and froze the extra. (Method as per this post).

Realise that you large-ish piece of pork belly does not fit nicely into your casserole.
7.30pm Put the pork into your casserole dish (it needs a lid) add the sliced vegetables and chicken stock. 
Pop it in the oven. You may want to put a post it note on the oven warning fellow housepeople not to touch the oven, as it may look like it has been left on inadvertently.  Go make dinner. You know, the one you will actually eat tonight.



Cook the crackling (part one)

8.30am Saturday morning. Put the pork skin into the oven on a wire rack. Go about your morning.

1.30pm. Take your pork out of the oven and leave to cool in the liquid. 

Take out the pork skin, which has been cooking for 5 hours, and disappointingly doesn't look like much. Feel a bit sorry for it, but don't say anything in case you hurt its feelings. Put the oven temp up to 240 degrees.


Cook the crackling (part two)

1.45pm Put the pork skin back in the oven for 15 minutes and be amazed at how much it puffs up and looks amazing. (Clearly a late bloomer).


Cool pork belly, strain off veg

4.30pm.  Take the pork out of the cooled liquid and set aside. It looked a bit... wet. And sad.

Strain the liquid.
Set some aside.

Prep sauce

Reduce the remainder by 2/3s. Trick I figured out – check the depth using a chopstick before you start, then you know when you’ve reduced it enough.

Warm pork belly to serve

20 minutes before you want to eat, heat the reserved stock liquid in a pan and pop in your pork.

2 minutes before carving. Dry it off on some paper, putting any leftover liquid in with the reduced liquid from before. Then quickly brown the top in a frypan in a little oil. (I just cleaned out the pan I had used to heat it up in).

Carve it into thick slices and serve it with the pommes puree and buttered lettuce. Bask in the adulation.


Things I learned:

  • Not everything good needs be painful.
  • Spiced brine definitely added some nice flavour there.


Guest verdicts:

  • “This is the best pork I’ve ever had.”
  • “Gee, that pork is good, isn’t it.” (From my laconic father in law. Gold, I tell you, gold.)
  • (The pork crackle was happily devoured by the two guests who like it with much pleasure, who felt that the rest of us not eating it was only a good thing).


  • The pork was very, very tender, with excellent flavour and no fattiness (like I’ve occasionally experienced in some restaurants). It wasn’t a “sticky” style pork belly, just very tender and great pork flavour. Sauce was nice, again just adding flavour without any fuss.
  • Pork crackle was the best I’ve ever done (I have a bad history with pork crackle). I was surprised at it not needing any salt – I had always thought it didn’t put enough salt on – just that combo of long time at low plus short time at very high and it was very light, airy and zero oiliness.
  • This was an excellent and relatively painless dish. You could prepare it a reasonable distance ahead (day before you wanted it) too. As a guest noted, it would be excellent for something like Christmas, where you wanted the oven during the day.
  • I am seriously considering including this as staple main course for those dinner parties where I wanted to do something complicated for dessert – the ultimate set and forget mains.

Next : Heston’s Coffee Brulee!